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 Thursday, May 19 2022 11:51
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Armenia-EU Partnership Council holds 4th meeting in Brussels 

Armenia-EU Partnership Council holds 4th meeting in Brussels 

ArmInfo.On May 18, the Armenia-EU Partnership Council met for the fourth time in Brussels - for the first time since the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership  Agreement (CEPA) entered into force on 1 March 2021. The meeting took  place in a particularly difficult international context that has  created multiple challenges to both the EU and to Armenia in terms of  security and economic stability.

The Partnership Council reviewed the implementation of CEPA, which  covers a wide range of cooperation sectors in political, economic and  trade areas, and welcomed the progress achieved. The EU welcomed  Armenia's commitment to CEPA implementation, appreciated positively  the reforms undertaken and encouraged the government to pursue its  reform agenda to the benefit of Armenian citizens, which the EU fully  supports.

The Partnership Council reiterated the shared commitment of Armenia  and the EU to human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and  democratic principles. The Partnership Council welcomed the  accomplishments to date in the implementation of Armenia's national  strategy for judicial and legal reforms and its national  anti-corruption strategy, while acknowledging that challenges remain.  The EU is engaged in a constructive policy dialogue with Armenia and  provides significant financial and technical support to these reforms  efforts. The EU is committed to work with Armenia to make further  progress towards freedom of the media and freedom of expression, as  well as on the fight against discrimination.

In the area of transport, the Partnership Council welcomed the  signature of the Common Aviation Area Agreement on 15 November 2021.  With this agreement, both sides engage in a process to improve  Armenia's aviation safety that may gradually lead to Armenia's  inclusion in the EU's aviation market with new air transport  opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits to both  sides.

The Partnership Council noted that, following its graduation from the  Generalised Scheme of Preferences, Armenia can no longer benefit from  the generous access to the EU market offered by the scheme. It  however highlighted that while CEPA did not provide for preferential  tariffs for trade in goods, it contained important potential for  benefitting bilateral trade flows that should be fully exploited.

The Partnership Council agreed that nuclear safety was a priority and  took note of Armenia's progress in this regard and of Armenia's  commitment to fully implement the National Action Plan adopted as a  part of the EU supported stress test process. It also reaffirmed the  importance of combating climate change under the Paris Agreement and  in accordance with the CEPA. To this end, the EU welcomed Armenia's  updated Nationally Determined Contribution targets and encouraged  Armenia to adopt a Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy,  aiming at reaching climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the EU's  commitment.

The Partnership Council welcomed Armenia-EU cooperation in the areas  of employment and education, underlining the importance to amend the  Labour Code and revise legislation on trade unions and employers to  further align the Armenian legal framework with the International  Labour Organisation fundamental conventions. The EU encouraged  Armenia's efforts to adopt the new education strategy and reiterated  its interest to strengthen cooperation with the Armenian authorities  on Education, Training and Youth strategies. The Partnership Council  expressed appreciation for the successful cooperation on Erasmus+ and  welcomed the association of Armenia to the EU programme Horizon  Europe that will allow the continuation of the participation of  Armenian researchers and research entities to European Research and  Innovation projects.

The Partnership Council took note of Armenia's willingness to start a  visa liberalisation dialogue with the EU. The EU noted the overall  good implementation of the Visa Facilitation agreement and of the  Readmission agreements and invited Armenia to sustain its efforts.

The Partnership Council agreed on the importance of the Eastern  Partnership framework as an essential cooperation platform. It also  reiterated that the fundamental issues of democracy, good governance,  rule of law, fight against corruption, human rights and gender  equality remained the cornerstone of the Eastern Partnership policy  framework. The Partnership Council noted that Armenia stood to  benefit from the Eastern Partnership's agenda of recovery, resilience  and reform, and from the ambitious Economic and Investment Plan (EIP)  with flagship initiatives determined by EU and Armenia, underpinning  this agenda that will provide support to stimulate jobs and growth,  support connectivity, the green and digital transition, education and  development of southern regions.

Ahead of the Partnership Council, the EU issued the Partnership  Implementation Report on developments in Armenia and Armenia-EU  relations since the previous Partnership Council in December 2020.  The report underlines Armenia's progress in implementing the CEPA and  the key role of the EU in supporting it.

The Partnership Council was chaired by the Minister of Foreign  Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Mr Ararat Mirzoyan, and the EU  delegation was led by the High Representative and Vice President of  the European Commission, Mr Josep Borrell. The Commissioner for  Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Mr Oliv‚r V rhelyi also participated  in the meeting.  

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